Ethnic conflict in the light of various authors

ethnic conflict in the light of various authors. It has 4 sources.

Anthropological history may trace the dawn of civilizations as groups of ethnic people gradually growing in numbers and strength while taking over other weaker groups. The tendency to over take and eliminate social groups is thus not a new concept it has been around for sometime and can be said to be in evolutionary terms, the survival of the fittest. Modern day historians and ethnographers condemn the totalitarian and territorial nature of social groups such as the Nazis, African and Latin Guerillas and Communists for they create and generate conflict. However, considering the reality of the concept Charles S. Maier, Martha Minow and Priscilla Hayner identify the cause for the emergence and implantation of such conflicts in the society rather than condemning them.

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In their analysis, each author presents the various aspects of ethnic conflict. For example according to Maier, ethnic conflict develops through a chain of events and it is a historical development in which each generation attempts to sabotage the other in order to dominate the other group. The effect of such domination is that the generations after often demonstrate characteristics of their predecessors thereby creating a series of dominance while servitude becomes embedded into the society. In light of such embedded memory, conflict too becomes embedded into the social culture.

The distinction and dissent then, of one ethnic group against the other is the result of such conflicts. Minow, for example accentuates this fact by writing about the historical background of the European approach to territorial accession. In her work she writes about the issue of European colonialists and other such nations who during the 1900s planned and administered massacre merely to have control over and expand their territories. The basic premise is that ethnic conflicts arise because of domination and proliferation of unauthorized territorialisation. She aptly gives the examples of Nazis during WWII, the Japanese in Korea, and the Communists in various parts of Asia and Europe. Thus, with the development of the concept of liberal societies there also emerges social enslavement. These extremes have, according to Minow, been the cause for modern ethnic conflict issues.

The reason why such issues have become the epicenter of discussion and concerns for social groups around the world is because, as we evolve into “civilized” society, groups are attempting to resolve issues through legal frameworks; negotiations and compromise. However, according to these authors conflict of modern society is not a new issue as its background can be traced back to older civilizations. The main conflict therefore rests on the fact that ethnicity and ethnic conflicts are age old while the methods and means that modern societies are adopting to resolve them are alien to the nature of the issues. For example there cannot be any legal proceedings for administrative massacres that have been carried out a century ago neither will there be any resolution for the conflict that has arisen due to demarcation as in the case of many tribes of Africa. The result is that there is no clear resolution. Consequently, one observes the aggressive memories of tribes engaged in disputes and the resentment of territorized ethnic groups without any clear solution in view as the dispute emerges from a historical problem rather than one developed in modern times.


Charles S. Maier. Hot Memory… Cold Memory: On the Political Half Life of Fascist and Communist Memory. Transit. 2002.

Martha Minow. Between Vengeance and Forgiveness.

Hayner, B. Priscilla. Unspeakable Truth. Routledge, New York and London. 2000.

Charles S. Maier. Forum Essay: Consigning the Twentieth Century to History: Alternative Narratives for the Modern Era. American Historical Review 2000.

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